“Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” And when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. (Matthew 10:34 – 11:1)
Today’s Gospel can be startling on its face. It’s important to understand the narrative. Jesus begins by telling the disciples that the struggles of discipleship may even start within the family and friends that they love.
In a number of ways, the picture Jesus paints of discipleship is one that seems impossible to embrace let alone live. The thought of being at odds with mother, father, sister and brother would make one wonder why they would want to journey down that road.
In reality, disagreements about religion can stir trouble in families. What the Lord gives is not “peace at any price”, but a special kind of peace that comes from staying close to Jesus. If there is discord within our family, let it be for the sake of personal conscience, and not from any dominating or judgmental spirit. We are called to be sincere, not authoritarian. Basically, Jesus wants us to be welcoming people, thankful for what others may offer us. Even such a simple gift as a cup of cold water will be noted to one’s credit, in the book of life.
The two thoughts of loving God with all of our heart and taking care of those in need reinforce His teaching that no creature, not even our parents, can bring us to the fullness of life and happiness that comes only from God. God wants us to love Him, not because He needs our love but because we need Him. He is objective reality, and we must always move from the subjective to the objective if we are to possess the truth. He invites us to move our focus from the merely natural and passing to the supernatural and everlasting.
The heart of today’s readings is to keep God always at the center of our lives and not crowd him out with concerns about all the things going on in the world that bother us. When God is the center, everything else will follow, including our relationships with our families and friends, and our prayer life will continue to grow. If we can keep our focus on Jesus each day, then we are living out His love.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, following you demands my all, and at times it seems that I do not have the strength to give what you ask. Help me to stay close to you in prayer and in the sacraments so as to have the grace to live the standard of love and generosity that you ask.”
By focusing on our relationship with God, there is a reward that flows to all of those we love. In this way, Jesus shows that he is not calling us to a love of God that excludes others. The standard of placing God first does not exclude love for mother or father, sister or brother. Once we love God as he deserves, we will learn to love others as they truly deserve. In fact, we merit the vision of the God we cannot see by loving the neighbor we do see.